Digital Humanities and Ottoman Studies, 7-9 July 2022 – Online Lecture series (2020) videos are online now

Digital Humanities and Ottoman Studies

Online Lecture Series 22.10.2020-28.01.2021,

organnized by  Cristina Vertan and Yavuz Köse

This online lecture series was a preparation for the workshop entitled Digital Humanities and Ottoman Studies.  State of the art, challenges, perspectives and prospective research. The lecture series brought together researchers in Ottoman studies and specialists in digital humanities to discuss about potentials and challenges of digital Ottoman research. In recent years there was an increasing number of initiatives and projects which use digital methods and techniques. Yet, given the area and period of time covered by the Ottoman Empire, the usage of digital methods faces particular challenges (multitude of scripts, languages, cultural identities, diverse historical periods) that the lecture series intends to address.

  • 22.10.2020 Süphan Kırmızıaltın (Abu Dhabi): Ottoman Text Recognition
  • 29.10.2020 Kürşat Aker (Northern Cyprus) and Cemil Ozan Ceyhan (Istanbul): Muteferriqa – Ottoman Turkish Search Engine
  • 05.11.2020 Emre Erol (Istanbul): Visualizing a Prosopographical Study of the Young Turk Elites: Using Data Mining, Network Clusters and Spatial Mapping
  • 12.11.2020 Jörg Wettlaufer (Göttingen): Travels in the 19th-Century Ottoman Empire. A Digital History Research Project
  • 19.11.2020 M. Erdem Kabadayı (Istanbul) and Yekta Can (Istanbul): Urban Occupations OETR. Bringing Ottoman/Turkish History into Digital Humanities
  • 26.11.2020 Antonis Hadjikyriacou (Athens), Ali Yaycıoglu (Stanford), Erik Steiner (Stanford) and Fatma Öncel (Stanford): Mapping Ottoman Epirus: Region, Power and Empire (Center for Spatial and Textual Analysis (CESTA)
  • 10.12.2020 Gisela Procházka-Eisl (Vienna), Hülya Çelik (Bochum), Omar Siam (Vienna): From Digital Transcription to a Searchable Corpus that Lasts: Ottoman Miscellanies and an Encyclopaedia go TEI
  • 07.01.2021 Antonis Hadjikyriacou (Athens): Economy, Environment and Landscape in the Cypriot Longue Durée: Combining Maps and Fiscal Surveys from the Fifteenth to the Twentieth Century
  • 21.01.2021 Aysu Akcan (Vienna) and Yavuz Köse (Vienna): HTRising Ottoman Manuscripts
  • 28.01.2021 Hülya Çelik (Bochum) and Thomas Wallnig (Vienna): Digitizing Early Orientalism: What did the Republic of Letters Know about the Orient?
  • 04.02.2021 Nil Tuzcu (Cambridge, MA): Istanbul Urban Database
  • 11.02.2021 Alicia Gonzaléz Martínez (Hamburg): Cobhuni – Contemporary Bioethics and the History of the Unborn in Islam
  • 25.02.2021 Cristina Vertan (Hamburg): HerCoRe – Hermeneutic and Computer-based Analysis of Reliability, Consistency and Vagueness in Historical Texts

This lecture series will be enhances by an onsite workshop, within the innitiative “Mixed Methods in Humanities”, financed by the Volkswagen foundation and organized at the University of Vienna 7-9 July 2022.
The Organisers of this lecture Series were Prof. Dr. Yavuz Köse (University of Vienna) and Dr. Cristina Vertan (University of Hamburg)

Digital Humanities and Ottoman Studies: State of the art, challenges, perspectives and prospective research.


The Reshuffling of Middle Eastern Identities in the Age of Nationalism: Insights from 19th-Century Travelogues

We presented our project at the international conference  “On the Way into the Unknown? Comparative Perspectives on the ‘Orient’ in (Early) Modern Travelogues“, which took place at the Institute for Early Modern and Contemporary History of the Austrian Academy of Sciences and Humanities between 28 and 30 November, 2019.

The slides of the second part of the presentation, covering the digital tools and our plans for a text mining environment through an online portal can be found here. 

The Most Reliable Travelogues Database

Our bibliography of travel accounts has currently more than 1,400 entries. It has thus already become a significant source of information for the genre. However, collecting the data is just a small step toward our final goal. We aim to build a totally accurate and reliable database for travelogues. We, therefore, keep on gathering, cleaning, and improving our data to reach this goal.

We obtain our metadata of travel accounts from the most reliable sources, namely the best research libraries in the world. However, the data coming from even the best databases (such as those of the HathiTrust and Princeton University Library) have various inaccuracies and inconsistencies. As a result, we need to inspect every single entry manually to check the information on authors, translators, editors, publishers, years and places of publication etc. One common problem that we come across, for example, is that when we download the metadata, translators and editors (and even sometimes publishers) are listed as authors. This inflates the number of travelogue writers, which is a serious problem for our purposes.

Another problem that we face is separating real travel accounts from “fake” or “quasi-” ones. We have detected several fictional travel accounts that are added to our bibliography through semi-automatic bibliography building processes. Moreover, there are reports and treatises on the Middle East that seem, at first sight, like results of personal experiences and observations in the region, yet in fact, are written without visiting the region. Such works, despite potentially valuable information that they may contain, do not fit our (rather wide) definition of a travel account. They, therefore, are taken out of our bibliography.

In short, through meticulous efforts in collecting and cleaning the data on the travelogues, we are building “the” most accurate and reliable database of travel accounts about the 19th-century Middle East.


“A Hypertext Map” of Mark Twain’s Travel Accounts

“With the help of computer technology this map attempts to display two different things. The black line tracks the route MT took on the Quaker City excursion. At the same time, the 13 places named in blue are active links. Clicking on any of them will take you to a passage in Innocents Abroad about that place. And when MT’s book is reconceived this way — geographically, or geo-culturally — what begins to appear is a map of the racial and ethnic prejudices shared by the book and its American audience.”



Mark Twain’s Innocents Abroad; or, The New Pilgrim’s Progress :

“Published in 1869, this account of a trip east to the Old World was a great popular success. Within its first year it sold over 70,000 copies, and it remained the best-selling of MT’s books throughout his lifetime. The book began as a series of travel letters written mainly for the Alta California, a San Francisco paper that sponsored MT’s participation in the Quaker City trip to Europe and the Holy Land in 1867. Revising the letters into a book was suggested by Elisha Bliss, who published Innocents as a subscription book on July 20th, 1869.”


Poster Presentation at DHd 2019

We will have a poster presentation at DHd 2019.

(“6. Jahrestagung Digital Humanities im deutschsprachigen Raum,” Frankfurt & Mainz, 25.03. —29.03.2019)

Poster Title: “Linked Open Travel Data: Erschließung gesellschaftspolitischer Veränderungen im Osmanischen Reich im 19. Jahrhundert im Spiegel von Reiseberichten durch ein multimediales Online-Portal mit LOD und Text Mining Funktionalität”


We have exceeded 1,000 entries in our travelogues bibliography! This number includes different editions and translations of some popular works, which will give us a chance to analyze variations in different editions.

We will update our bibliography on the website soon, along with adding more information about the authors.

A Project on the Graphic Materials in Travelogues

The Travelogues website was created within the broader project of Aikaterini Laskaridis Foundation to promote Greek culture, and especially Greek literature, on a national and international level. This website aims to make known the graphic materials found in travel accounts of journeys to Greece and the eastern Mediterranean from the 15th century onwards, and thus contribute both to students’ education and scientific research. An important part of the editions that constituted the database of the website belongs to the Historical Library of the Foundation.

There is an exhaustive bibliography, and of course, the collection of graphic material available on the website.